Don't Go Overboard With Ethics Reform
There's an old joke that Congress does two things: nothing and too much. It seems like the Legislature is being asked to model Congress when it comes to taking on ethics reform. I went to a meeting last night sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser and outgoing Sen. Carlene Walker where it seems like the audience wanted to morph a simple plan for transparency into some kind of regulatory nightmare replete with loopholes and exceptions.
The meeting started off with a very simple list of things they'd like to accomplish: full disclosure of all gifts, contributions and expenditures; ban campaign funds spent being used for personal expenses; ban using leftover campaign contributions for personal uses; and establish an independent commission to review violations and hear complaints. These are all good ideas that allow for greater transparency and establish simple and easy-to-follow rules. By the end of the meeting, however, there were over 6 sheets of suggestions that the audience had thrown into the mix.
This isn't to say that all of these suggestions were bad. That said, we should try the simple solution first and see if it works. If there are then failings and weaknesses, future legislative sessions can address those with small tweaks. I agree with the Daily Herald's editorial on the matter:there are few instances of actual ethical problems and what instances there are can be solved with the added transparency.